(SALON) – It's easy for significant stories to get lost in the sound and fury of Donald Trump's frontal assault on American democracy, epitomized by his militarized co-opting of Washington's Fourth of July celebration. As my interview with Angie Maxwell, co-author of "The Long Southern Strategy," shows, Trump's presidency was decades in the making, with racism, sexism and fundamentalism all playing crucial roles. The forces that brought him to power are ultimately far more consequential than he is.
That's why a cluster of recent developments involving questions of religious privilege deserve far more attention from the public and the media than they have received. These events reflect both the advancement of a theocratic, "dominionist" worldview that elevates the state-sanctified religious liberty of some at the obvious expense of others – and a rising tide of liberal, secular resistance.
On July 2, federal prosecutors announced they would retry humanitarian aid volunteer Scott Warren on two charges related to aiding migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. Warren, whom Amnesty International has previously said "would be a prisoner of conscience" if convicted, was "detained for his volunteer activities motivated by humanitarian principles and his religious beliefs."
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Warren regards himself as a devout Christian, driven to follow the words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew: "For I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me to drink, an alien and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you ministered to me." Warren's religious freedom clearly plays no role in the Trump administration's thinking. It's the negative space that throws everything else into sharp relief.